The World Biennial Forum is an international get-together on practical and actual issues concerning biennials, aiming to provide professionals from the international biennial community and contemporary art world with a new global platform.
Geared towards biennial organizations, curators and their collaborators, the World Biennial Forum enables practitioners from various biennial initiatives in the world to meet and exchange ideas on common practices, share expertise, as well as to discuss the foremost topics and concerns in the field.
The World Biennial Forum involves the participation of representatives of biennial institutions, as well as creative and critical professionals, from the youngest to the oldest, from the most renowned to upcoming: all convening in a collegial spirit.
The World Biennial Forum aims to diffuse knowledge and to promote public awareness of contemporary art biennials, focusing on their shared objectives and common practices while acknowledging and celebrating their diversity.
The World Biennial Forum is an initiative by Biennial Foundation.
Premiere in Gwangju
The World Biennial Forum No 1: SHIFTING GRAVITY co-directed by Ute Meta Bauer and Hou Hanru will take place in the city of Gwangju, South Korea, from 27 to 31 October 2012.
The World Biennial Forum No 1 is an international convention, the first of its kind for biennale practitioners and related professionals, on the occasion of the 9th Gwangju Biennale: ROUNDTABLE.
The World Biennial Forum No 1 serves as a meeting point and forum for exchange, providing an opportunity for critical reflection upon the fact that over one hundred-fifty biennials for art and related disciplines are currently being organized all over the world: a world with many cultural centres that are characterized by rapidly changing socio-economic, and political certainties. This reality creates new challenges in the field of producing and curating contemporary art while it has affected various societies across the globe. The World Biennial Forum No 1 will dedicate special attention to Asia as its context and as a continent.
The World Biennial Forum No 1 is aimed for all those who are involved with them: curating, organizing, and supporting international biennials. Conceived as an informal meeting point, the World Biennial Forum No 1 will present keynotes speeches by well-known speakers from a wide range of backgrounds and fields, and also offer Case Study discussions in order to address matters that concern those who engage with biennials on a professional level, including those who represent and fund them.
The 9th Gwangju Biennale: ROUNDTABLE curated by a team of six Co-Artistic Directors – Sunjung Kim, Mami Kataoka, Carol Yinghua Lu, Nancy Adajania, Wassan Al-Khudhairi, and Alia Swastika takes place from 7 September until 11 November 2012.
The World Biennial Forum No 1 is organized by:
The proliferation of large-scale recurring exhibitions of contemporary art has been an important transition in the international contemporary art world. Intersecting new and existing networks, these exhibitions and the institutions that produce them have been responsible for reshaping the contemporary art world over the years.
Apart from a few important meetings that took place in the past, such as the Bellagio conference organized by the Rockefeller Foundation (1997), Ifa’s seminal series of talks “Biennials in Dialogue” in Kassel (2000), Frankfurt (2002), Singapore (2006), and Shanghai (2008), as well as the Bergen Biennial Conference (2009) in Bergen, Norway, which lead to the publication “The Biennial Reader, An Anthology on Large-Scale Perennial Exhibitions of Contemporary Art” co-edited by Elena Filipovic, Marieke van Hal and Solveig Øvstebø (Bergen Kunsthall & Hatje Cantz, 2010), the World Biennial Forum is the first professional forum for biennale practitioners globally. The World Biennial Forum No 1 not only aims to address ‘biennials’ as a curatorial platform, but also as what has become one of the most important cultural institutions existing globally today.
Gwangju Biennale Foundation has taken the initiative to host the inaugural edition of the World Biennial Forum No 1 reflecting the biennial’s progressive and innovating vision, and indicating Gwangju Biennale’s leading position in the international field of contemporary art. Expecting colleagues from many countries to attend, the World Biennial Forum No 1 aims to provide participants of varied expertise and cultural backgrounds with a common meeting point to exchange practices.
Biennales are noisy and chaotic. They are also, at present, nebulous and intrepid; and their future survival depends on the guarantee of radical and experimental voices. I believe biennales provide valuable public forums for critique. The moment this critical spirit dies, the biennale may die too. We must not overlook the fact that biennales are by nature chaotic, political, social, and local and remember that “beauty” and “elegance” could very well destroy a biennale.
A biennale must be provocative and youthful. I believe biennales should be critical rather than art-historical, and anthropological rather than archeological. The biennale is called a discursive platform, because there is nothing that is fixed, and it is altogether helter-skelter. In the spirit of Walter Benjamin, a biennale requires political participation rather than the surrender to rituals. With the Gwangju Biennale, more than with any other biennale, this has been the case from its very inception in 1995. That is because the Biennale was born out of the Gwangju people’s uprising for democratization and their sacrifices.
Contemporary art is always the central context of any biennale. However, in terms of its mode of practice, one might say that a biennale is not merely an artistic venue as it is also a venue for diversifying the humanities and social sciences. In other words, the spectrum of artistic interpretation in biennales is very wide, and they thus function as platforms for broad-ranging and emergent visual cultures. Today’s biennale goers go “to study” various aspects of contemporary society rather than “to see” an exhibition. From mammoth biennales with vast funding to smaller-scale genre biennales, what is different about biennales from other more traditional art institutions is that biennales try to generate discussion and fun at the same time.
The Gwangju Biennale may be counted among international blockbuster art institutions today, but it prefers to function as a venue where cultural production, in a broad sense, and consumption intersect, because it must be participatory rather than didactic, and it prefers to be a social medium.
Yongwoo Lee, President of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation.
The 9th Gwangju Biennale: ROUNDTABLE
Historically, the roundtable is associated with the political summit, where various agendas are brought together for group consideration. It could also evoke the traditional Korean image of the roundtable, the duriban, around which people eat communally. In this vein the six Co-Artistic Directors – Nancy Adajania, Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Mami Kataoka, Sunjung Kim, Carol Yinghua Lu, and Alia Swastika- have chosen to engage with the practice of the collective as a nonhierarchical organizational alternative.
The process echoes and intersects with various regional histories and movements, challenging the Co-Artistic Directors to consider diverse forms of community and various contexts of belonging. The result is not pre-determined by any group identity or shared quality, and instead reflects a shifting, organic relationship of ideas.
While operating simultaneously on many levels, ROUNDTABLE is not about unanimity. Instead, it is an open-ended series of collaborations that require active participation and individual responsibility, resulting in a multiplicity of voice, as well as opportunities for cross-contamination. Beyond metaphor, ROUNDTABLE simultaneously describes the working relationship of the six Co-Artistic Directors, the conversational interaction of its six sub-themes, and its non-linear structure.
The six sub-themes form the core of the ROUNDTABLE. By design, the sub-themes circle around one another, overlapping, and at times taking oppositional views on the role of the individual or of the collective. Within the overarching framework of the ROUNDTABLE, they invite us to rethink history as a series of malleable junctures, to consider the tension between belonging and anonymity, and the affects that temporality, spatiality and mobility have on the collective.
The Co-Artistic Directors have described their process in this manner: “As individuals working together, we could not have a single perspective, and instead it became about finding a connecting point. Both curator and audience may not relate in the same way to all of the artists, however we can find a point of connection within the themes.” The act of curation is thus a synthesis – a series of collisions that perhaps leads to transformation.
The 9th Gwangju Biennale: ROUNDTABLE.
Co-Artistic Directors: Sunjung Kim, Mami Kataoka, Carol Yinghua Lu, Nancy Adajania, Wassan Al-Khudhairi, and Alia Swastika.
Exhibition period: 7 September – 11 November 2012.
Co-Directors Ute Meta Bauer and Hou Hanru have been appointed to develop the overall structure for the first get-together of biennale professionals and all those interested in the topic of global biennials. Both are engaged in an international practice as curators and educators whilst coming from different socio-geographical backgrounds. Bauer and Hou will provide a set of topics aiming to serve as points of departure for the discussions.
Ute Meta Bauer is the Dean of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art. She served as the Director of the Visual Arts Program and as Founding Director of the Program in Art, Culture and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bauer was co-curator of documenta 11, artistic director of the 3rd Berlin Biennale (2004) and was the Founding Director of the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA).
Hou Hanru is an art critic and curator. He worked at San Francisco Art Institute as Director of Exhibitions and Public Program and Chair of Exhibition and Museum Studies (2006-2012). He has curated numerous exhibitions including the Biennials of Johannesburg, Shanghai, Gwangju, Guangzhou (Triennial), Tirana, Venice (French Pavilion, 1999, Chinese Pavilion, 2007), Istanbul, and Lyon. Hou is currently curating the 5th Auckland Triennial.
Gwangju Biennale Foundation is organizing one of the leading biennials of contemporary art. Founded in 1995 in memory of the spirits of the civil uprising of the 1980 repression of the Gwangju Democratization Movement, Gwangju Biennale is the first and oldest contemporary art biennial in Asia. Gwangju Biennale is founded and directed by Yongwoo Lee.
Biennial Foundation is a non-profit organization, facilitating links between organizations and practitioners operating within the international biennial community by providing an open platform for exchange, collaboration and research. Biennial Foundation (2009) is founded and directed by Marieke van Hal.
Ifa Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen or Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations is Germany’s leading organization for international cultural exchange. Ifa operates both nationally and worldwide to promote the artistic exchange and dialogue between civil societies, and to provide information about foreign cultural policy. Head of Visual Arts is Elke aus dem Moore.
Biennial Foundation would like to thank Un-Tae Kang, Mayor of the City of Gwangju and Chairman of Gwangju Biennale Foundation, and Yongwoo Lee, Founding Director and President of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation for enthusiastically taking up the task of hosting the premiere of the World Biennial Forum.
Gwangju is an important city in the history of South Korea’s pro-democracy and human-rights movements. With Gwangju’s history in mind it is our vision that the 1st World Biennial Forum will provide the best opportunity to build a stronger professional alliance between biennale practitioners from all regions in the world. Curators, biennial representatives, creative and critical art professionals, both the most upcoming and renowned, all will be coming together in a spirit of collegiality and equality in Gwangju.
Marieke van Hal, Director of the Biennial Foundation.
The internationally acclaimed Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa has been commissioned to create a special forum space in the Kim Dae-Jung Convention Center, where all discussions will take place.
Choi Jeong Hwa is an artist and designer who works across many disciplines including art, graphic design, industrial design and architecture, using a broad range of media involving video, molded plastic, shopping trolleys, real and fake food, lights, wires and kitsch Korean artifacts. His playful practice comments on the privileged environment of art institutions and questions the prized status of artworks amidst a consumer-frenzied world.
Choi has participated in many biennials of contemporary art, including: Kyiv’s Arsenale, 2012; the 17th Sydney Biennial, 2010; the Gwangju Biennale, 2006; the Venice Biennale – Korean pavilion, 2005; the CP Biennale, 2005; the Liverpool Biennial, 2004; the Lyon Biennale, 2003; the Yokohama Triennale, 2001; the São Paulo Biennale in 1998, and the Taipei Biennale, 1998.
Choi Jeong Hwa was born 1961 in Seoul, Korea. He lives and works in Seoul. For more information about the artist: http://choijeonghwa.com/
Image: Arsenale, Kyiv, 2012.
The Advisory Committee of World Biennial Forum No 1 consists of:
Honghee Kim- Director of the Seoul Museum of Art–SeMA, and Artistic Director of the Gwangju Biennale in 2006, Korea.
Sang-Yong Sim – Board Member of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, Professor Faculty Curatorial Studies, Dongduk Women’s University, Korea.
Jinsang Yoo Artistic Director of the 7th Seoul International Media Art Biennale, Professor Faculty Art & Play (Project Art), Kaywon School of Art and Design, Korea.
Youngchul Lee – President of the Institute of Asian Cultural Development, and Artistic Director, Anyang Public Art Project (APAP) 2005, Korea.
Eriko Osaka – Chair of the Organizing Committee of the Yokohama Triennale, and Director of the Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan.
Fang-Wei Chang - Director of the Biennial and International Project Office at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan.
Riyas Komu- Artist, co-Founder and co-Director of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India.
Advisory Committee Members are entitled to:
- advise on the overall direction of the World Biennial Forum No 1 and on the composition of its events and activities.
- advise on the direction of the main theme for the World Biennial Forum No 1, and on the composition of the panels for the forum.
- cooperate on the promotion of the World Biennial Forum No 1 and on facilitating a broad participation base.
- advise and cooperate on other relevant matters when necessary.